Bhutan Sustainable Studies Trip

Photo: Sad Girl

Saying Good Bye

By Sunny Frost | June 11, 2019

I watch a group of students, faculty, and facilitators that are circled around a center stage. Performers wearing Traditional Bhutanese dress, costumes, and masks perform a history of Bhutanese beliefs and tradition through dance and theatre. This was our farewell. As I watched the performance with my peers, I am confronted with the shared emotional reaction we were all collectively having to the following questions: Is this the end to my Bhutanese experience? Will I ever be back? How do I embody this experience forever? How do I ensure that I do not forget Bhutan? Bright fabrics fling through the air...

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Bhutan’s Important Relationship with India

By Matthew Vaneyll | June 10, 2019

Bhutan is located in between two regional powers that have significant military force. Due to its location, Bhutan serves as a barrier to further Chinese aggression to India’s “chicken neck” area of Siliguri Corridor. Because of this, India seeks to have a strong relationship with Bhutan. This can be seen from recent current events in Bhutan from 2017: Chinese forces were building roads in a disputed border area between Bhutan and China. According to the Sigur Center for Asian Studies from George Washington University’s Justin Seledyn, “The standoff in Bhutan’s disputed Doklam region this summer occurred near the tri-junction of India, China,...

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photo: woven fabric in Bhutan

Textile similarities between Bhutan and Peru

By Jose Guzman | June 9, 2019

Coming to Bhutan has always been a dream for me. Now that I am here I cannot help to compare this culture with others in the world. I would guess that everybody is doing the same, comparing streets, airports, restaurants, hotels, and the very campus or Royal Thimphu College with our known world. Since I am from Peru and have a special interest in textiles, I have found exciting that Bhutanese and Peruvian weavings have many similarities, here are some basic ones: You have to take into consideration that 17,654 kilometers separate the two nations, and there was no known...

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Environmental concerns, Japan and Beyond

By Giorgio Cantele | June 8, 2019

The author’s recent visit to Japan as part of CMC’s Sustainability Bhutan field experience, made it clear to him that Japan is a highly developed, disciplined and seemingly, environmentally-conscious nation. Despite this aura of civic awareness, Japan is not an all-together environmentally-friendly nation. Consider this information: Japan’s historic role in WWII resulted in it being the recipient of the only two atomic bombs ever dropped on one nation by another Japan, having virtually no local energy resources beyond eolic and solar, is currently one of the leading nations in relative consumption of fossil fuels Acid rain has become a major...

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The Punakha Dzong

By Keith Labbe | June 8, 2019

The Punakha Dzong creates a sense of antiquity and sacredness.  Built in 1637, it is the second oldest dzong in Bhutan and is contained by the Mo Chu and Pho Chu rivers.  At one point, it served as the capital and seat of the government and now is the winter residence of the official monk body that oversees the state of religion in the country. It is also the place where all of the kings of Bhutan have been crowned and is where the royal wedding occurred in 2011. One of the most interesting facts and why it likely creates...

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A Day of Traditional Bhutanese Cuisine and Culture

By Hannah Goldberg | June 7, 2019

On day 5, our guest speaker at the Royal Thimphu College was Aum Kesang Choeden who spoke to us about traditional Bhutanese cuisine and culture. She shared her interesting journey of how she got to where she is today. It began when she was a young child, cooking with her family. She told us that the Bhutanese have a special way of referring to a good cook – they are called “the hand.” Someone who has “the hand” means that they have the ability to turn an ordinary dish into something extraordinary. Although it was thought that Aum possessed this...

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The Divine Madman

By Andrea Sanchez | June 6, 2019

A prominent figure in Bhutanese culture is named Drukpa Kunley, otherwise known as the Divine Madman. There are a series of stories, fact and fiction, surrounding this cultural icon. Prior to the sixteenth century, shamanistic beliefs and practices dominated the Bhutanese ideology. It was believed that deities inhabited and controlled natural forces like rivers, cliffs, and lakes. Drukpa Kunley entered the scene from Tibet and demonstrated his mystical powers by expelling these dark forces. His heroism is unique, however, because his methods challenged the conventional sacred methods of the time. In fact, many of the legends surrounding him incite humor...

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Of Cranes, Cows, and Holy…!

By Simonetta Fodde-Crotzer | June 5, 2019

The Crane Festival in Phobjikha Valley was a very colorful visual treat. The first group of monks came out wearing traditional animal masks considered highly sacred. Some had dear horns, others looked like tigers, some were wild boars, and others were representations of fantastic animals like Garuda (the bird god) . Last week we had a lecture with Dr. Francoise Pommaret, a well-know French scholar who has lived in Bhutan for over 30 years, and she explained that the purpose of the imposing animal-like look is to deter evil spirits and, thus, protect temples, homes, and people. In these higher...

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A Brief But Intense Encounter With Bangkok, Thailand

By Giorgio Cantele | June 4, 2019

The author’s plane touched down softly in Bangkok at nearly midnight. It was bound from Tokyo, Japan. He breathed a sigh of relief… This was where he and his wife, also a Sustainability student, would meet the rest of the CMC study group bound for Paro, Bhutan in little more than 2 days. Despite being over 7 hours long, the on-time flight, on Japanese carrier ANA, had been relaxing due to the meticulous care Japanese routinely exhibit in all their endeavors, and the composed demeanor of Japanese travelers. Having lived in Mexico, a developing nation, the author realized the 2,864...

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Creative Ways to Upcycle Plastics

By Hannah Goldberg | June 3, 2019

Over the 20 days we spent in Bhutan, in many of our varied lectures the issue of waste management and plastics came up as a question from CMC’s sustainability-minded students. We learned that with rapid development and modernization (out of the medieval age only about 60 years ago) come challenges and infrastructure issues that need to be solved. With plastics, specifically, Bhutan faces the same challenges we all do globally: What to do with the plastic waste? Although they have not fully answered this question or solved the plastic waste problem in their country, I did notice some creative ways...

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